I'm not quite sure how we got here so quickly, but it is finally time for the 2019 NFL Draft. The 2019 NFL Draft has the makings of one of the more exciting drafts in recent memory, primarily due to the fact that with all of the rumors that have been circulating, we don't really know what is going to happen.
That also includes not knowing what direction the Steelers will take.
Based on value, need, and previous interest, I have put together my final Steelers mock draft and how I feel the Steelers' haul could turn out. Mock drafts rarely have high batting averages in terms of accuracy but regardless, I feel pretty good about this mock and I hope that you do, too.
1st Round (20): Greedy Williams - CB - LSU
Deep down, I'm hoping that the Steelers find a way to select Devin Bush, whether that's via an aggressive trade up or Bush magically falling into their laps. But since I don't predict trades and don't want to get my hopes up with Bush, I'm going with the pick that has been in front of our faces for quite some time now.
Since the LSU Pro Day, the Steelers (specifically Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert) have seemingly been enamored with Greedy Williams. He fits the mold of traditional Steelers' 1st round draft picks: a younger underclassman with elite athleticism from a Power 5 school. Williams also brings the benefit of top tier coverage skills with fantastic ball skills and production (8 interceptions over the past two years).
People will be turned off by Williams' slender frame and lackluster run defense, but the Steelers need splash plays from their secondary after having a historic low rate of turnovers in 2018. Williams wouldn't be pressured into playing time right away (although I think, over time, Williams can work outside and Nelson could bump down to the slot where he spent time in Kansas City) and could turn into their long-term option on the outside. Williams just makes too much sense here.
Other prospects considered: Byron Murphy - CB - Washington; Chase Winovich - EDGE - Michigan
2nd Round (52): Darnell Savage - S - Maryland
I think there is a real chance that Darnell Savage will be selected long before the Steelers get back on the board at 52 but safeties are so hard to gauge when it comes to draft projections. Savage has been getting some late-1st round talk as of late, and it isn't hard to see why when you watch the film. A standout at Maryland, Savage was about as versatile and electrifying of a prospect as you'll see.
Instinctive, athletic, and hard-hitting, Savage would give the Steelers countless possibilities in their various sub-packages to make plays around the field. If you want him to play in the box, cover the deep half or third of the field, or play out of the slot as an extra corner, Savage can do it. Savage is one of the players I feel pretty good about in this class and the Steelers have had clear interest. If he makes it to 52, expect the Steelers to sprint to the podium.
Other prospects considered: A.J. Brown - WR - Ole Miss; Rock Ya-Sin - CB - Temple; Juan Thornhill - S - Virginia
3rd Round (66): Jace Sternberger - TE - Texas A&M
Tight ends like LSU's Foster Moreau and Notre Dame's Alize Mack have attracted the most talk around the Steelers but the Steelers could land a gem earlier in the draft if Jace Sternberger is available.
Kevin Colbert reportedly came away impressed with a number of prospects from Texas A&M's Pro Day and you have to believe that Sternberger was one of those players, based on the rumors that NFL front offices have been pretty open of their love of the athletic tight end.
Sternberger needs to improve as a run blocker (he is willing and has experience in this area but needs coached up) but as a receiving threat, he could shine in the Steelers' offense alongside Vance McDonald due to his solid ball skills and route running.
Also, it would be pretty college to see a Roethlisberger-Sternberger connection on Sundays.
Other prospects considered: Miles Sanders - RB - Penn State; Charles Omenihu - IDL/EDGE - Texas; Ben Banogu - EDGE - TCU
3rd Round (83): Miles Boykin - WR - Notre Dame
For whatever reason, it has taken longer than expected for Miles Boykin to gain steam around the draft community (which might be a symptom of the NFL being ahead of Draft Twitter, per usual). Boykin's draft projection reminds me a lot of Kenny Golladay's in 2017: a height/weight/speed prospect that needs some growth and grooming with his game but could ultimately end up as a very solid, if not excellent, starter in the league.
It's hard to tell how much of Boykin's development is from the poor quarterback play at Notre Dame but you have to think that with his skillset, he could do much better with a guy like Big Ben. If Boykin can put it all together, he seems like a natural fit at the 'X' receiver spot in the Steelers' offense, which would allow JuJu Smith-Schuster to continue dominating in the slot like he has over the past two years.
Other prospects considered: Andy Isabella - WR - Massachusetts; Taylor Rapp - S - Washington; Kahale Warring - TE - San Diego State
4th Round (122): David Long - ILB - West Virginia
David Long might arguably be the most frequently mocked prospect to the Steelers this offseason, largely due to the Steelers sending the house to the WVU Pro Day. But there is good reason for it: Long is an intriguing inside linebacker prospect.
While he is undersized at 5'11", 227 pounds, Long plays much bigger than his frame would indicate and put up solid production in college. He constantly plays like a ball shot out of a cannon firing downhill looking to blow up every play. Long isn't the perfect prospect (his aggression can put him in bad position to make plays at times) but he would provide an upgrade in depth than what the Steelers had in 2018.
Other prospects considered: Foster Moreau - TE - LSU; Josh Oliver - TE - San Jose State; Kingsley Keke - IDL - Texas A&M
5th Round (141): Khari Willis - S - Michigan State
Khari Willis isn't a household name in the draft community but that is not to take away from what he could bring to the Steelers on and off of the field on day 3. While he is an unspectacular athlete (still quick, running a 4.52s 40), he has a penchant for finding the football and making plays. Willis was widely considered to be one of (if not THE) leader of the Michigan State defense and his leadership and football intelligence was on display constantly.
Teammates and coaches raved about his character and willingness to make himself and those around him better. The Steelers took note of the type of help Willis could bring to the team, considering that Tomlin met with him at the Senior Bowl, Tom Bradley met with him at the combine, and Teryl Austin put him through drills at MSU's Pro Day.
With all of this time invested, the Steelers have pretty clear eyes on the former Spartan and it would not be surprising to hear his name called by Pittsburgh.
Other prospects considered: Ugo Amadi - S - Oregon; David Sills V - WR - West Virginia; Gary Johnson - ILB - Texas
6th Round (175): Mike Weber - RB - Ohio State
The running back projections in this class have been all over the place this offseason and Mike Weber is no exception to that. One thing is clear, however: the Steelers have some pretty clear interest in the running backs heading into draft weekend.
Weber was one of the seven (!!!) backs brought in for a visit and with the Steelers history of interest in Ohio State players, this shouldn't be a surprise. Weber isn't an exciting back but he brings experience and reliability as a runner, which could be a valuable asset for the Steelers.
With James Conner solidifying himself in 2018 as a Pro Bowl running back and Jaylen Samuels being one of the pleasant surprises of the year with his excellent play over the last quarter of the season, the Steelers could use a reliable RB3 who could spell guys when needed. Weber fits this role, even if it's not an exciting one.
Other prospects considered: Trevon Wesco - TE - West Virginia; Gary Jennings - WR - West Virginia; Travis Homer - RB - Miami
6th Round (192): Jordan Brailford - EDGE - Oklahoma State
With T.J. Watt seeming like the only EDGE on the Steelers' roster with a long-term future in the Steel City (depending on how you feel about Bud Dupree), the Steelers would be smart to invest in improved depth with their pass rushers sometime soon.
I think the position could be addressed earlier with a player like Chase Winovich but their lack of evident interest in pass rushers this offseason makes it seem they might wait until day 3 to take one, if they even take one at all. Jordan Brailford is a high-effort, decently explosive pass rusher that uses a fantastic get-off and violent hands to set the edge.
He might never be an impact starter in the NFL, but the traits he displayed at Oklahoma State and at the East-West Shrine game show that there is enough to work with as a late-round target in the hopes that he can become something more.
Other prospects considered: Jordan Scarlett - RB - Florida; Cody Thompson - WR - Toledo; Terrill Hanks - ILB - New Mexico State
6th Round (207): Ulysees Gilbert III - ILB - Akron
The Steelers typically target a small school/non-Power 5 player every year and if they miss out on Devin Bush in the 1st round, I would not be surprised if they double dip at inside linebacker.
Ulysees Gilbert might have played at Akron, but he has NFL-caliber instincts. With that being said, he has some limitations in pass coverage (not from an athletic standpoint, more from inexperience from not facing routinely elite competition).
Gilbert would need to make his mark on special teams to stick around but if he does that, the Steelers could use his skills to his advantage and turn him into a sub-package weapon. That might not sound like much, but with the lack of quality depth at inside linebacker and with how much time the Steelers spend in sub-packages, Gilbert's role could turn into an important one.
Other prospects considered: Dionte Johnson - WR - Toledo; Dravon Askew-Henry - S - West Virginia
7th Round (219): Garrett Brumfield - IOL - LSU
Rounding out the draft, the Steelers start and finish with LSU prospects. Garrett Brumfield is not talked about much in this class (and quite frankly, I don't feel this is a strong interior offensive line class outside of the first five or so prospects) but there are pieces to work with.
Brumfield developed a strong anchor at the point of attack facing elite defensive line play in the SEC, which should bode well for him in the NFL.
The former LSU guard also showed the ability to fluidly get out of his stance and pull, something that the Steelers frequently ask their linemen to do. But the one thing that the Steelers will likely love that most coaches love? Brumfield's grit. He plays with an edge and aggression in the way that he wants to put every defender into the ground each play.
Brumfield needs some work but the tools are there to work with, especially with the Steelers' zone schemes. This could be Shaun Sarrett's first project as offensive line coach who, with some development, could slide into a key reserve role that has been held by B.J. Finney in recent years.
Other prospects considered: Alex Bars - IOL - Notre Dame; Andrew Van Ginkel - EDGE - Wisconsin; Immanuel Turner - IDL - Louisiana Tech